Position Statement

Natural Dog Behaviour is concerned with the recent re-emergence of Dominance Theory and forcing dogs into submission as a means of preventing and correcting behavior problems. For decades, some traditional animal training has relied on dominance theory and has assumed that animals misbehave primarily because they are striving for higher rank. This idea often leads trainers to believe that force or coercion must be used to modify these undesirable behaviors.

In the last several decades, our understanding of dominance theory and of the behavior of domesticated animals and their wild counterparts has grown considerably, leading to updated views. To understand if the techniques that are being used are Dominance Theory-based, we must first understand the principles.

Definition of Dominance

Dominance is defined as a relationship between individual animals that is established by force/aggression and submission, to determine who has priority access to multiple resources such as food, preferred resting spots, and mates (Bernstein 1981; Drews 1993). A dominant/submissive relationship does not exist until one individual consistently submits or defers. In such relationships, priority access exists primarily when the more dominant individual is present to guard the resource.

In our relationship with our pets, priority access to resources is not the major concern. The majority of behaviors owners want to modify, such as excessive vocalization, unruly greetings, and failure to come when called, are not related to valued resources and may not even involve aggression. Rather, these behaviours occur because they have been inadvertently rewarded and because alternate appropriate behaviours have not been trained instead. Consequently, what owners really want is not to gain dominance, but to obtain the ability to influence their pets to perform behaviors willingly —which is one accepted definition of leadership (Knowles and Saxberg 1970; Yin 2009).

Applying Dominance Theory to Human-Animal Interactions

Even in the relatively few cases where aggression is related to rank, applying animal social theory and mimicking how animals would respond can pose a problem. First, it can cause one to use punishment, which may suppress aggression without addressing the underlying cause. Because fear and anxiety are common causes of aggression and other behaviour problems, including those that mimic resource guarding, the use of punishment can directly exacerbate the problem by increasing the animal’s fear or anxiety.

Second, it fails to recognize that with wild animals, dominant-submissive relationships are reinforced through warning postures and ritualistic dominance and submissive displays. If the relationship is stable, then the submissive animal defers automatically to the dominant individual. If the relationship is less stable, the dominant individual has a more aggressive personality, or the dominant individual is less confident about its ability to maintain a higher rank, continued aggressive displays occur (Yin 2007, Yin 2009).

Natural Dog Behaviour promotes harmony between humans and companion dogs through understanding and communication based on positive interactions only. We do not use or endorse any training technique or device that uses dominance, physical punishment or harsh correction.

 

Terms and Conditions

All pricing is based on one dog per program. There is a $150 charge for each additional dog included in the behaviour programs. Payment must be made in full at time of booking of programs. Payment by VISA or MC is preferred. We do accept cheque and cash which are payable at or before the first session. We do not extend terms or offer payment plans.

Cancellations – Refunds

After commencement of all programs or consultations we offer no refunds. Should you wish to cancel your program, it must be done prior to start of that program, then you will be provided a full refund. Notification of cancellation must be received no less than 72 hrs before the first appointment.   If you cannot provide 72 hours notice of cancellation and upon acceptance of these terms as noted in the history form, there is NO REFUND given.

Should you decide to cancel your program after commencement, you do so with the knowledge that you are jeopardizing your dogs behaviour therapy and recovery. No refunds are given upon cancellation.

Natural Dog reserves the right to cancel a program at anytime when it is determined that too much time has occurred between sessions due to clients not making or keeping appointments, or it is determined that the client has become non-compliant, (see below).

There is a $75 administration fee applied to all program cancellations, regardless of 72 hour clause.

Scheduling/Appointments

Although our therapy programs follow no particular timeline, we do like to keep approximately two weeks between each session. During which, you will be required to perform homework. It is understood that you will perform these assignments exactly as given by the behaviourist.

You will be required to perform the homework for at least that 10 days. Once you and your dog have become comfortable with the therapies, it is then your responsibility to book the next session. Natural Dog Behaviour will not book the next session until you notify us. The scheduling of the sessions will go forward based on how well the dogs take to the therapies only.

All efforts will be made by Natural Dog to keep appointments on schedule. However if rescheduling is required, please let us know within 24 hrs of appointment (when possible).

From time to time, it may be necessary for Natural Dog to reschedule appointments. All efforts will be made to provide clients with 24hrs notice. In cases of emergency, a reasonable amount of notice before appointment will be given.

Compliancy

It is assumed and implied upon enrollment in a program that the client(s) will follow the therapy plan as laid out by Natural Dog Behaviour. It is critical to your dogs progress that you do not vary from that program, add to, or take away without first consulting with Natural Dog Behaviour your intent to do so.

If it is determined that you are not following the therapies as laid out by Natural Dog Behaviour, or that you are uncooperative or adversarial to the process, you will be deemed non-compliant and your program will be cancelled.

If Natural Dog Behaviour receives no contact or updates from you for a period of 60 days, it will be determined that you no longer wish to continue and your program will be cancelled.

If you have extenuating circumstances or health issues and cannot continue, you must let Natural Dog Behaviour know. At that point your program will be put on hiatus until you are able to continue.

Unlimited Email and Phone Support

All of our behaviour programs offer unlimited email and phone support for the life of your dog. Our intent is to help our clients stay on course with the therapies and process after we have completed the sessions. It applies only to the dog that was on the program and advice surrounding those specific issues.

Unlimited email and phone support does not extend to extra visits or sessions, which will be charged at the normal session rate of $120/hr.

Additional Sessions

My programs are structured around the important behaviour assessment which determines how many sessions will needed to learn the process and apply the therapies affect the fastest change. Sometimes it is necessary to add extra sessions in challenging cases, or if the clients decide they need to for their own benefit.

If the behaviourist determines that extra sessions might be needed in any particular case, you will be made aware of this. These will be charged at the normal session rate of $120/hr.

Efficacy & Guarantee’s

Due to the complex nature of dog behavioural problems, we do not offer any guarantee on total elimination of a behavioural issue. However, if the programs and therapies prescribed are followed diligently, you will see measurable positive change, and in all cases an improvement in past behaviours.

Any person (or business) who guarantees 100% success in fixing difficult behaviour problems is likely not a trained and qualified animal behaviourist. DO NOT use them.

The protocols and therapies used by Natural Dog Behaviour are based in the latest scientific research and knowledge of dog behaviour, not ‘hayseed’, conjecture or myth. Most of the protocols used have gone through clinical trials with thousands of dogs to determine efficacy. All trained behaviourists follow these established principles and are ethically and morally bound to do so.

None of the techniques and therapies used by qualified behavourists employs dominance, hitting, yelling, harsh leash correction, spray bottles, shock collars, citronella collars, pinch collars, choke collars, prong collars, submission or pinning (alpha roll), aggression, aversion, or punishment to train or modify a behaviour, (and yes, that includes making a claw with your hand and poking your dog in the shoulder!).

If the trainer or “behaviourist” you are currently using employs any of these methods STOP USING them immediately and contact us for advice on what to do next.

In dog behaviour therapy there are many factors, (environmental, psychological, physical etc.) that point to the success of a specific program. Included in these is the consistency and commitment by you, the owner. Correcting behaviour problems in dogs is HARD WORK! and often it takes a considerable amount of time for these new behaviours to take hold. There are no quick-fixes and try as you might you CANNOT speed it up, it has its own pace and each dog responds differently.

If you become lazy, complacent or ambivalent about the process, we do guarantee that nothing will change.